Carbon Offsets for U.S. Green Affordable Housing

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Duh! This news releaselooks like an afterthought by the organizers of recent USGBC Greenbuild International Conference and Expo held in Boston November 19 – 21.

The release, dated November 24, 2008, looks forward to the Conference which ended three days earlier. Too bad, because the news content is interesting.

Attendees at this year’s Greenbuild can assuage their guilt over carbon emissions from their travel and energy used at the conference. Enterprise Green Communities, which sponsors a carbon offset program, partnered with the USGBC to make the conference carbon neutral.

While not a new idea itself, what’s interesting is that the fund will help to pay for affordable housing for low-income Americans. Of course, the affordable building projects will themselves be rated by environmental building standards, such as the USGBC’s LEED, so it really closes the loop for a sustainable building economy.

This idea is bound to grow with an economy in a tailspin, and the dual political pressures of affordable housing and GHG emissions being dealt with in an integrated system.

The boomer generation might even call it “holistic.”

I’m wondering, however, how many of those international visitors to Greenbuild, wouldn’t like the funds to go to affordable housing in their own countries.


The Enterprise fund is a U.S. Treasury Department-certified Community Development Financial Institution and one of the largest nonprofit loan funds in the country. It’s also an arm of the Enterprise for-profit organization.  There doesn’t seem to be anything on the Enterprise website that talks about funding affordable housing in, say, third-world countries — which incidentally is where carbon offset programs were originally focused.

Yes, charity begins at home. Will it end there too?

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Colin Laughlan